Orbital Revolutionises Drive-In Sound with Car-Link

Changing conventions: Orbital Car-Link.

Orbital Sound has rounded off a busy summer season for its Car-Link wireless in-car speaker series, designed specifically to address the demand for an audio solution for drive-in shows amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Car-Link was created to address the challenges of delivering consistently excellent in-car audio, overcoming the myriad issues associated with reproducing modern movie soundtracks and live music performances without compromise in the growing Drive-In market.

Orbital Managing Director Chris Headlam explained: “Car radios fitted to vehicles are all different. Some have big bass speakers, and others just tiny tweeters. None really sound very good, and none are designed for accurate sound reproduction. As a result, it is totally impossible to relay clear and fair sound equally to everybody via the vehicle manufacturers’ car installation”

Add to this a raft of other issues – including car batteries going flat, radios auto-switching off after five minutes and obtaining an appropriate licence from OFCOM, and you face a long and tortuous list of negatives. “We recognised that the industry was breaking a fundamental rule: the responsibility of safely delivering the sound to the paying public had been moved from the organiser to the audience itself. Our phone was ringing constantly for better solutions to this hazardous situation, and we knew we had to pick up the design gauntlet,” Headlam reported.

So, the Car-Link concept was born – “with the brief to build our own self powered, stereo, wireless in-car speaker with true clarity of sound, that would work reliably day-in day-out, and for at least 12 hours on a battery charge. It also had to look great, compliment a car’s design, and be completely ‘public proof’,” he explained.

The first model was launched in June as Car-Link Carbon, coupled with Orbital Sound’s own long-range RF distribution system, and was rolled out successfully at events hosting up to 500 vehicles. The system is designed to deliver charging, distribution and storage from a fully integrated system of 50-bay wheeled cases, simply requiring a single power feed to provide 50 automatically recharged units ready to be handed out with ease. Orbital Sound’s Car-Link has been rapidly adopted by the industry’s leading names, including The Luna Cinema, with over 250,000 deployments to date.

As Orbital Sound prepares to extend the Car-Link range with new models, including the Car-Link Retail, Headlam continued: “These are well-documented challenging times for the Live industry, but at Orbital Sound we have embraced the opportunity to move forwards and re-invent. Car-Link pushes the industry forwards in a wholly positive direction, opening up new opportunities for promoters and organisers, and importantly, when teamed up with the Retail’s onboard screen and software, creating valuable new revenue streams while enhancing visitor experiences.”

Striving to change the convention of in-car audio was, Headlam explained, the primary design motivation. “In-car F&B ordering, advertising, donating – underpinned by contactless payments – are the next logical steps, with more new products coming out soon. We are already working with big brands such as the AA and the Drive-in House of Worship market, as demand to find new solutions to deliver safe, secure entertainment escalates. Pantomime is the next obvious candidate, as producers innovate with new ways of delivering Christmas cheer,” Headlam stated. “Car-Link has already proved to be a game-changer – as Drive-in provides a beacon of light in what are otherwise very dark times for the entertainment industry.”

Car-Link is marketed under the Car-Link Technology branding, which is part of the Orbital Sound group of companies, with the series rapidly expanding, in line with new applications for Drive-In as the wider live industry searches for alternatives to seated venues.